The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) of Bristol/Washington County, Va., has been blessed by its long partnership with Emory & Henry College. This partnership has taken many forms, including community events, board membership, internship placements, and volunteerism.
Without a doubt, one of the most enduring collaborations is the annual Service Plunge activity. The CAC has been a Service Plunge site for more than five years, and the mark that Emory & Henry first-year students have left on our organization has been indelible.
At any given moment, the items on the CAC’s “to do” list are greater than the agency’s ability to meet them. Service Plunge offers our agency an opportunity to get many of these items “crossed off” – painting, simple repair work, cleaning, and outside landscaping. Without the assistance of Emory & Henry students, these items would stay on the “to-do” list or would cause the agency to divert very scarce financial resources away from our mission to providing services to child victims of abuse, in order to pay someone to mow the lawn or to clean the facility. The impact of the students’ work is immediate, and contributes directly to the CAC’s ability to meet the needs of children.
On Saturday, Aug. 27, first-year students, their staff advisors, and even their bus driver spent approximately two and one-half hours doing hands-on work. Some of our regular volunteers also joined the efforts, as two volunteers from the Abingdon Master Gardeners directed students in maintaining the landscaping and flower beds.
In Virginia, volunteer time is valued at approximately $21 per hour. The monetary equivalent of this time was about $400, but the real value is much more difficult to measure. Our facility was made safe, clean, and inviting – all things that contribute directly to our efforts to make the CAC a child-friendly and child-safe place.
We have made many friendships with former and current students through Service Plunge events, and some students have continued to volunteer throughout their stay at the college. The CAC, and our community, is a much better place because of the efforts of these outstanding young people. Thank you, Emory & Henry College for your focus on giving through service.
It is truly the way the world will be changed- and I expect E&H students will be leading the charge.
Submitted by Kathryn A. Roark, Executive Director, Children's Advocacy Center of Bristol/Washington County, VA